From: Emmaus Road
Then God spoke all these words: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no gods before me.” (Exodus 20:1-3)
No Monkey Business
What can we do to keep the attention of children in Sunday school? A new Bible curriculum may include the latest technology with fast-paced songs and flashy lessons to nurture faith.
But before the latest technology hit the classroom, we used flannel boards, brightly colored Bible story leaflets, and songs with hand motions. (Remember the old Sunday school song, “The Wise Man Built His House Upon the Rock?”) And some Sunday school teachers even tried show-and-tell in class to capture the attention of restless children.
Danny was an energetic five-year-old in his Sunday school class. He watched and listened carefully to the students who brought a toy or two to show in class. A little girl told everyone about her stuffed monkey. It was cute and cuddly.
As she returned to her seat, Danny asked if he could see her stuffed animal. He took that stuffed monkey and didn’t hug it and treat it gently. Instead, Danny threw it across the room as if he were throwing a ball across the playground. Fellow students and the teacher were surprised as he hurled that cute stuffed monkey that day in class. They couldn’t believe what Danny had done.
After the class settled down, another student, Mikey, took his turn at show-and-tell. He brought a comb and a watch. When he completed his presentation, Danny piped up again and asked Mikey if he could see his watch. Mikey had a quick response: “No way, José! I saw what you did to that monkey.”
There are moments in life to say, no, clearly. Children are taught to say, no, when strangers offer them rides home. On one hand, God shouted a divine, no, in the Ten Commandments. To keep life in order, to love and care for our neighbors, and to keep the Almighty as the most important presence in our lives, God set boundaries for us. Within these boundaries are blessings, while moving beyond them brings despair, pain, and hopelessness. So we say, no, to those acts that tempt us to place God second in our lives. And we say, no, to murder, adultery, theft, bearing false witness, and coveting.
Martin Luther believed that if we would obey the first commandment to place God above everything else, we would also obey the remaining commandments. Now that’s a tall order, considering our sinful human condition. But the God who first promised to be our God and to be on our side is the same God who forgives us and gives us the Holy Spirit so our light of faith shines in this world. With divine help, we can say, no, to monkey business.
Eternal God, we thank you for the Ten Commandments, which guide our lives in this world and provide knowledge of your good and gracious will.
“Let Us Ever Walk With Jesus,” Evangelical Lutheran Worship (ELW) #802.
1 Let us ever walk with Jesus,
Follow His example pure,
Flee the world, which would deceive us
And to sin our souls allure.
Ever in His footsteps treading,
Body here, yet soul above,
Full of faith and hope and love,
Let us do the Father’s bidding.
Faithful Lord, abide with me;
Savior, lead, I follow Thee.
2 Let us suffer here with Jesus,
To His image e’er conform;
Heaven’s glory soon will please us,
Sunshine follow on the storm.
Though we sow in tears of sorrow,
We shall reap with heav’nly joy;
And the fears that now annoy
Shall be laughter on the morrow.
Christ, I suffer here with Thee;
There, oh, share Thy joy with me!
3 Let us also die with Jesus.
His death from the second death,
From our soul’s destruction, frees us,
Quickens us with life’s glad breath.
Let us mortify, while living,
Flesh and blood and die to sin;
And the grave that shuts us in
Shall but prove the gate to heaven.
Jesus, here I die to Thee
There to live eternally.
4 Let us gladly live with Jesus;
Since He’s risen from the dead,
Death and grave must soon release us.
Jesus, Thou art now our Head,
We are truly Thine own members;
Where Thou livest, there live we.
Take and own us constantly,
Faithful Friend, as Thy dear brethren.
Jesus, here I live to Thee,
Also there eternally.
Which path will guide us to truth? Walking with Jesus, we have a faithful companion as we face daily struggles. Jesus will finally lead us to joy and raise us up to daily renewal in his name.
Moses Destroying the Tablets, Rembrandt, 1659.
What is the expression on the face of Moses? What do you think was on his mind and heart as he received these commandments from God? What was his mood as he raised them and began to throw them down to destroy them?